George Abbott was a prolific director, playwright,and producer on both stage and screen. His career spanned 9 decades and his volume of work is simply huge. Born in Forestville, New York in 1887, he attended the University of Rochester before taking a course in playwriting at Harvard University. In 1913, he began his acting career on Broadway but, while performing, he also began to write and his first successful play was the The Fall Guy (1925). His next play was Love ‘em and Leave ‘em, which he both wrote and directed. From this moment on, Abbott was frequently both the writer and director in a string of Broadway hits. From the mid-1920s to 1970, there is barely a year in which Broadway did not feature a show written and/or directed by Abbott.
Some of Abbott’s biggest Broadway hits included The Boys From Syracuse (1938), Pal Joey (1940), The Pajama Game (1954; Tony Award for Best Musical), Damn Yankees (1955; Tony Award for Best Musical), Fiorello! (1959; Pulitzer Prize for Drama & Tony Award for Best Musical), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963; Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical), and Flora the Red Menace (1965). In 1987 he was awarded a Special Tony Award on his 100th birthday.
Abbott also wrote and directed for the screen and he had a prolific movie career from 1918 to 1958. His last two films were hugely successful adaptations of his own work: The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees.
Abbott was married three times and had one child. He died in 1995 at the age of 107.
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